We’ve never been to a festival before as a family and so when we started working with Doug at Lodestar on a project to promote the festival more to campers staying over the weekend we thought straight away that we had to try out Lodestar ourselves and do so as a family.
Lodestar has been running for 5 years now and each year gets bigger, whilst still retaining it’s same ethos as a family festival with enough to keep everyone in the family entertained for three days. Being music lovers the adults in the group were all looking forward to seeing some of the best in up and coming bands and some international artists who flock to Lodestar knowing the reputation it has amongst people who want to see and hear good music.
For the children they loved the music too but found a lot more to do in amongst the stalls, the games and – in particular – the chasing of bubbles.
Three of us from OLPRO drove from Worcester and Nottingham to Lode, near Cambridge on Friday lunchtime. We had with us three children, 9,7 and 3. We are arrived around 3 and the music was well under way. The parking was all nice and easy – we found the site with no problems as it was well signed and the camp site was like nothing I’d experienced at a festival before. There was plenty of space between tents, given the huge space given over to campers, and amongst the sea of tents you can see that there were plenty of groups who had created their own little communities in the camping field.
The field was also very tidy, had toilets in amongst the camping area and around the edges and wasn’t far at all from the HQ marquee and ticket office which also doubled as the entrance. The staff all around, some of them volunteers, were extremely helpful and great with the kids.
It was also obvious straight away that this was a festival for families. Almost everyone around us had children with them and there was lots of space for them to play.
So, we set up camp for the following three days. We set up a Wichenford 8 berth tent for two of us and the children. The Wichenford tent is a fantastic tent for a family of 5 as it’s give you lots of sleeping space and a spacious area in the middle if you need to eat inside. We also set up two Knightwicks. One for us and the other for a friend and his son who were joining us that evening from Essex. Around our own little OLPRO village we put up a Witley Windbreak and it looked fantastic.
It took us a few trips to bring everything on site but that’s a lesson learnt – lots of people used sledges or little carts to transport everything and with children you have all the extra sleeping bags and air beds to carry but it wasn’t a problem.
Once set up we went and called on our friends at Ibex Camping – html://www.tent-shopibexcamping.co.uk – who had a great store at the Festival selling everything any of the campers onsite could have needed and I know helped a lot of people out with the bits they’d forgotten. They had on display all of the OLPRO tents and our accessories and it was fantastic to wake up every morning to see the OLPRO flag flying!
Once we’d caught up with IBEX who were open for long hours during the festival we went and collected our wrist bands – this alone the kids loved – and a nice touch was that the children were all given second wrist bands which we could write our phone numbers on – just in case. Although, once inside the atmosphere was great and you always felt safe letting the children run off and play or explore.
As well as three music stages – one which is quite folky and then a second and main stage – there is a drama/ play stand, lots of food stands (the food was outstanding) and a wide range of stands from charities and relevant companies selling important things for festivals like boomerangs, glow sticks and candy floss. There were also rides for the children. Of course these cost but none were expensive.
Inside the main area toilets were accessible everywhere and were always clean and the bar offered a wide range of beers, plus cider and a cranberry alcoholic drink which we all agreed was dangerously like drinking a soft drink.
The best thing about the music was not knowing what you were going to get. We all knew a few of the bands before and some of the others we’d listened to on Spotify or Youtube but otherwise lots of them were a surprise and in all cases a good surprise.
On Friday we loved Eleanor Friedberger ( http://www.eleanorfriedberger.com ) , Mausi were different for the day and we had listed to them a lot in the office before ( http://wearemausi.com ) and the headliner Ryan Keen was very good and really enjoyed by everyone in the crowd ( http://www.ryankeen.co.uk ) .
Saturday was very diverse and threw up lots of people we hadn’t seen or heard before. Deaf Havana were the headliners and did their job well ( http://www.deafhavanaofficial.com ), but we really liked The Cyriacs ( https://www.facebook.com/thecyriacs )on the smaller stage, Caracol (who were on Sunday on the main stage and were incredible) and Ruby Lux ( http://rubylux.net ) on the main stage.
While we got to watch the bands the kids either stayed with us and enjoyed the music or went off to watch over things going on or shop (which they did a lot of).
We returned to our little village of tents from time to time to feed or change but the days were so warm (Saturday was a scorcher) that we didn’t need rain macs or waterproof anythings. It was a little windy on the evenings and, of course, it’s a festival so the evenings aren’t quite! but it’s in the spirit of it. On the second stage each evening were some great DJs and some fantastic music. This went on until 2 in the morning but we didn’t get beyond 12 on the first night and earlier on the second night but for those without children or those who don’t mind feeling a little more tired the following day it was superb.
The final day was the best, possibly, musically although Eleanor Friedberger was one of the best acts overall. It started well with Ellie Rose ( http://www.ellierose.co.uk ) who was superb and had everyone shouting for an encore. How she is not an household name I don’t know.
Then we had Caracol (from Canada) who were incredible and you should definitely check out ( http://caracol.indica.mu/en/ ). Paper Aeroplanes ( http://www.paperaeroplanesmusic.com ), too, were perfect for Sunday and deserve a lot of success. We even bought a Paper Aeroplanes tea-towel. To finish the day and the weekend was Thumpers ( http://www.thumpers.co ) who we knew of before and finally, to finish off the day and the weekend perfectly was Dragonette ( http://dragonetteonline.com ), who being more poppy were perfect for the kids to finish the weekend on and they loved dancing around at the front to them.
The final evening finished at 8:30 allowing everyone to get away and we arrived home just after midnight after a fantastic weekend. A month or so a go we ran a survey we’d carried out about attending a festival together is great for families. If you want to try it out then we recommend Lodestar and it will be back in 2014, so keep an eye out for tickets becoming available at http://www.lodestarfestival.com , and if you need that perfect festival tent and accessories then go to http://www.olproshop.com.
We’ll be posting more pictures and links from the festival over the next week at our twitter feed @olpro1 and on our facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/olproltd . If you have any questions about Lodestar feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and hopefully see you there next year.